For this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday, I have the absolute pleasure of honoring the Queens Of Noise and a couple of my personal greatest inspirations: The Runaways! The Runaways were Cherie Currie (vocals,) Joan Jett (rhythm guitar, vocals,) Lita Ford (lead guitar,) Sandy West (drums,) and Jackie Fox (bass.) All ages between 15-18 during the time of formation, the fantastic five were managed by
insane dog-obsessed crackhead Kim Fowley, who had worked with artists such as Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Frank Zappa, before turning his sites on creating the world’s first all girl hard rock band. After meeting a young Joan Jett in downtown Los Angeles in 1975, Fowley introduced her to drummer Sandy West and original bassist, Micki Steele, settling on a power trio. After Steele left the band for the ultimately more commercially successful Bangles stateside, auditions were held for the remaining three spots, which were quickly filled by Ford, Currie, and Fox.
The Runaways were snatched up by Mercury Records in 1976, releasing their self-titled debut album the same year, before immediately beginning a US tour, having the opportunity to play legendary venues such as CBGBs and the Starland Ballroom. The first album was not at all received well in the states, with the public apparently not ready to embrace a group of teenage girls singing so frankly about independence and life on the streets. After just barely scraping the bottom of the album charts, the group went in an entirely different direction, heading overseas to Japan shortly after the release of their sophomore album, “Queens Of Noise.” Japan showed the girls true stardom, with the rebellious, catchy song, “Cherry Bomb” (written by Jett & Fowley the same day they met Currie,) quickly helping the group go gold and playing to sold-out stadiums. Shortly after returning to the states, Jackie Fox left the band, leaving Joan to pick up the pieces as bassist for remaining performances. Fox was replaced by Lita For look-a-like Vicki Blue and Laurie McAllister just before frontwoman Cherie Currie also decided to quit, leaving Joan once again to cover another spot, stepping up as lead singer for a short while before completely disbanding in 1979.
After the dissolution of The Runaways, Joan Jett went on to become a force of nature in the rock world, taking the states by storm with her band, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, 1981 cover of The Arrow’s “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” which was released on her own label with partner Kenny Laguna, Blackheart Records. In addition to still running Blackheart and touring to this day, Jett has appeared on broadway as Columbia in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and “Light Of Day” with Michael J. Fox. She most recently produced “The Runaways,” a movie starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, which was based on Cherie Curries 1989 autobiography, “Neon Angel.” After Cherie left the band, she starred in “Foxes” with Jodie Foster and released an album with twin sister Marie, before finding a new passion: chainsaw carving. In between the occasional performance, Currie now focuses on her art and home life with her son Jake. Lita Ford followed her love of heavy metal to stardom in the 80’s after The Runaways, working with the likes of Twisted Sister and Ozzy Osbourne. She continues to tour today and has two sons, James and Rocco with ex-husband Jim Gillette. Jackie Fox went on to be a contestant on The Dating Game in 1980 (yes, really,) before becoming an entertainment lawyer and part-time blogger. Sandy West toured the California with The Sandy West Band throughout the 80’s and 90’s before becoming a drum teacher. While writing her autobiography in 2005 she was diagnosed with lung cancer, and succummed to the disease on October 21st, 2006. A benefit concert was held in her honor shortly after.
Although reunion rumors have been tossed around throughout the years, nothing has ever come of it. Reunion or not, The Runaways have undoubtadly succeeded in inspiring countless with their rebellious additude and no-holds-barred take on rock and roll. Keep on rockin’, Runaways, we love you!